October 7, 2005 - by
FEATURE STORY: India Trotter’s New Role Could Land Her All-America Honors

Oct. 7, 2005

By Elliott Finebloom
FSU Sports Information

Change is difficult for any player. For the Florida State Seminoles, the off season was a time of big changes. A new coaching staff came in and five seniors who were the core of the program had graduated. India Trotter was coming into her junior year fresh off being named to the All-ACC first team but the changes for her didn’t end with the hiring of new head coach Mark Krikorian.

Trotter was the heart of the Seminole midfield her first two years playing the role of the team’s holding midfielder and doing it extremely well. Trotter started 44 of the first 46 games of her career as the defensive midfielder in former head coach Patrick Baker’s scheme. She was named to the 2003 All-ACC Freshman team and then joined UNC’s Heather O’Reilly as the only two players to go from all-freshman honors to All-ACC first team a year later. With so much change and turnover, taking on a different role in 2005 was the furthest thing from Trotter’s mind. However it was on the mind of Krikorian and his new staff.

The first year head coach saw Trotter filling a different role in 2005. Instead of helping the Seminoles defend against the opposition, the new staff wanted Trotter to help lead Florida State’s attack. She was no longer being asked to think defensively but to turn her thoughts to scoring goals, which she had done only three times in her career.

“Mark just told me about my new responsibilities and what he was expecting out of me,” said Trotter. “My only thought was I just hoped I could live up to those expectations.

“I never worry about the individual accolades I got when playing a more defensive role. I really wasn’t worried about that. It was something new for me but that brought some excitement. The only pressure comes from being able to help the team in whatever role I am being asked to play and that was what I worried about.”

With seven goals in the first 11 games of the season those worries seem to be unfounded. Trotter already has more points than she had in her entire career coming into the 2005 season and more than twice as many goals. She has shown she could fill the role that Krikorian and his staff hoped when they arrived in Tallahassee.

“Players with the athleticism and ability to get past players one-on-one, particularly in the women’s game are limited,” said assistant coach Mick Statham who is in charge of the Seminole attack. “They are few and far between and when you see them you know it. India is certainly one of those players. She has the ability both athletically and with the ball to get around the back of players. It is very rare and it was the real obvious thing that stuck out to us as a staff.”

“India has something that you just can’t develop,” said teammate Sel Kuralay who played against the world’s best players at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. “Having pace is a gift. It is going to put defenders on their back foot. Having someone like India running at you is a defender’s biggest fear. She not only has the ability to take people on with her pace but also her technical ability. That is an awesome combination.”

Knowing Trotter had the ability to fill that role was just the first step. Getting her to make the switch and then believe she could be successful was a whole other story. The Ft. Lauderdale native never really saw herself as someone who could be an offensive threat. She wasn’t sure she had the mentality needed to be a goal scorer, or the shot for that matter.

“India has something that you just can’t develop. Having pace is a gift. It is going to put defenders on their back foot. Having someone like India running at you is a defender’s biggest fear. “
FSU forward Sel Kuralay

“I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to score because I always had a really bad shot,” said Totter with a laugh. “I never thought I had the attacking mentality that is required to play this role but I think my feelings have changed on that a little bit. I have to have that now. That is what my team needs from me and that’s what I am being called upon to do. I guess I have gotten that mentality a little more since I have scored more goals this season than I have in my whole career, which is kind of funny. Anytime you are called upon to fill a different role you owe it to your teammates to do the best you can do.”

Trotter may still have a lingering doubt or two about having the requisite mentality to be a big part of the attack but she is probably the only one. Coming into last weekend’s games, she was behind only teammate Kuralay and US National Team player O’Reilly for goals scored and points among ACC players. With just three career goals to her name coming into the season, she was sitting ahead of players like Lori Chalupny, Sarah Kozey, Lindsay Tarpley, Elizabeth Guess and Elizabeth Remy 10 games in to 2005.

“I never would have thought that,” said Trotter. “I still don’t think that it’s such a big deal. A goal is a goal. All that matters is that we are winning games. It is kind of funny to be ahead of players like Tarpley, Chalupny and Remy but it is still early in the season. There are so many things that can happen and my goal is to have my team in the top of the standings and not my name up there.”

Even if she doesn’t believe it, Trotter has made believers of her teammates and coaches. While ranking in the top three of the ACC may still be a little surreal to her, it does say something to those around her.

“When you score goals it gives you confidence,” said Statham. “Not anyone can score goals. It is very difficult. You can’t teach that. Either you can do it or you can’t. Obviously she has been scoring goals this season. Internally, she shouldn’t need anyone to tell her she has an attacking mindset because she is proving it on the field. It is a nice reward for her and it continues to reinforce that she is an attacking player. The goals prove that. Just look at the stat sheet.”

“India is one of the best players in the country but I am not sure if she believes that yet,” said Kelly Rowland, a three-year starter in the middle of the FSU defense. “I have seen all the best attacking players the ACC has to offer over the last three years and India stacks up with any of them. I have faced the best in the country and she is right there.”

While the move seems to have been pulled off with the greatest of ease, it was the junior’s willingness to embrace the change that made it seem so easy. Even though she freely admits she still misses her old role at times, Trotter has done everything the coaching staff has asked of her. That has been as important as her ability to play the position or the work she has put in to make the change work.

“Externally, she has been so good with her attitude in approaching this change,” said Statham. “I don’t think players like to move from the position they feel most comfortable in. I know as a player I didn’t like it. It is how you handle it though. She has handled it as well as we could have expected and I have told her that. Internally, she may prefer to play in the middle of the park but she has been very professional about it. I think she has done a tremendous job in doing anything we have asked her to do.”

“India is one of the best players in the country but I am not sure if she believes that yet. I have seen all the best attacking players the ACC has to offer over the last three years and India stacks up with any of them. I have faced the best in the country and she is right there.”
Seminole defender Kelly Rowland

“I do miss it a little bit but it doesn’t have the perks that the role I am playing now has,” said Trotter. “It’s a little strange. I miss it and I don’t all at the same time.”

When Trotter speaks of the “perks”, most people would assume that is a euphemism for goals but that isn’t the case at all. For Trotter the perks of her new role are the freedom and creativity that comes with developing a more attacking mindset.

“The perks are how much creativity there is at my current position,” said Trotter. “I don’t put too much stock into the recognition that comes with scoring goals. Doing a good job at either position is just as rewarding. It is just different roles on different parts of the field.

“This year I am able to do more things that I couldn’t do out of the back but my first year I also did more things to help my team from the back that I am not asked to do this season. It is a give and take. There are advantages and disadvantages to playing both roles.”

In 2003 and 2004 Trotter saw her role as more clinical. She was in charge of connecting the field and being the link between the defenders and attacking players. Trotter’s previous job was more about going from `A’ to `B’ and every now and again to `C’. This year she has the whole alphabet at her disposal.

“It does allow me to be more creative because it isn’t so much a position where you go from `A’ to `B’,” she said. “You can be creative on the dribble, where my first two seasons it was more a situation where I had to pick and choose my times to go forward. Now I have the freedom to do more outside of a regimented role because I don’t have the defensive responsibilities. Now I get to use my creativity to attack opposing defenses.”

While different coaching staffs see players in different ways, Trotter doesn’t think that was the nucleus of the idea behind shifting her role. She sees it more as change necessitated by the change in the personnel around her. With the addition of Viola Odebrecht to the midfield, it opened the door for Trotter to use her athletic ability and skill in a different way.

“I think both coaching staffs saw me the same way but the team changed so I had to adjust to the team around me,” said Trotter. “The team is different from year to year and I think that is more of the reason my role changed. Even this season my role varies from game to game. I have definitely been asked to attack more. That has probably been my primary role but not my only role.”

New players have assumed different roles and even filled her previous spot on the field but that hasn’t stopped Trotter from crediting her new teammates with making the transition so easy. That is especially true when it comes to running mate Kuralay. The Australian is a world class attacking player and playing with Trotter, who has very little experience up top, has been an easier adjustment than either thought and it has been one of the biggest factors in Trotter’s development.

“Sel is such a great player and it makes you want to play off of her,” said Trotter. “I think that playing with someone as good as Sel gives you goose bumps. It motivates you to play harder. You want to get in when she gets the ball because you know she is capable to turn. I want to make that attacking run since she is so capable of getting you the ball. On the other side, you want to get her the ball because she can turn on a dime and score from anywhere. Playing with Sel motivates me to attack and be a better player.”

“She (India) is an incredible talent,” said Kuralay. “India is a complete player. She is a tremendous athlete with a lot of pace. She is very skillful as well. We can read each other really well. She knows exactly what I am going to do and what ball I am expecting. Sometimes I don’t even see her but I know where she is going to be making her runs and where she is going. There is a good understanding there that usually takes time to develop. We got on the same page quickly. It is awesome playing with her.”

Trotter and Kuralay are flourishing together. They have combined to score 17 goals and record 43 points. They have assisted one another on seven goals and they are on pace to become the highest scoring teammates in FSU soccer history. But Trotter isn’t just learning from Kuralay. She is also learning by watching the player occupying her former position in the middle of the field.

“It is pretty spooky at times watching Viola play,” said Trotter. “I never realized the impact you could have at that position until I moved and started seeing someone like Viola play there. She is doing an amazing job. She is the one keeping us level headed now. When we are out of whack she brings the game back down. She’s the one we get the ball to so our team can get back on the same page. That’s what I used to do but every season is different and this season that’s her role.”

That kind of maturity is what has made Trotter the player she is in 2005 more so than switching positions or the players around her. She has learned from one year to the next and combined her incredible athletic ability with a better understanding of the game. It is her continued maturity as a player that has led to her success.

“I don’t think the role change has caused me to shift my thinking,” said Trotter. “I just think the more experience you get the more the mental part of your game develops, especially playing in the ACC for three years now. I have become stronger mentally due to maturity and just being around the college game more compared to my first two seasons. Tactically, I have learned so much about the game over my three years. Each year you just know a little bit more than the last.”

“She is taking more chances offensively. Mark has given her a lot of confidence that she is as good as if not better than any of the players we will face. I think she is running with that confidence. You can see it in the way she is taking on more players and going forward. She is getting more and more involved in our attack.”
Childhood friend and FSU defender Teresa Rivera

“She doesn’t just rely on her athleticism now,” said Statham. “That is the thing with very athletic players; they end up relying on it too much. She is using her brain with her off the ball runs and the position she gets herself into. Her reading of the game has come a very long way in a short space of time. Her goal against NC State typified that. She made the correct run at the correct time and used a different surface of her foot to score the goal. Those are the biggest improvements we have seen and tactically she is doing a very nice job now.”

With her maturity has come humility as well. Trotter hasn’t let her recent goal scoring success go to her head and the goals of the team are still her only priority. She still even needs to be convinced of how talented she is.

“Mark always told India that she is an amazing athlete and he is right,” said Rowland. “Not only is she athletic but she has a lot of skill as well. Usually players have one or the other. India is so unique because she has both. She creates a lot of problems for defenders, especially one-on-one but also combining with other players. I am just glad I only have to go against her in practice.”

“She is taking more chances offensively,” said childhood friend and teammate Teresa Rivera. “Mark has given her a lot of confidence that she is as good as if not better than any of the players we will face. I think she is running with that confidence. You can see it in the way she is taking on more players and going forward. She is getting more and more involved in our attack.”

Seven goals and 18 points later, Trotter is still working on getting better and becoming the offensive threat the coaches and players clearly see her as.

“I am still working on it,” she said. “I have worked on my finishing and staying composed in front of the net. It has helped a lot. I also have had so much support from my teammates and coaches. I think they believed I could do it more than I did.”

Just nine months ago, Trotter’s future was up in the air. The team had no coach and only four regular starters returning. In January of last year, Trotter had no idea who she would be playing for or next to but she was pretty sure she’d be in the middle of the pitch. Flash forward to October and she has a new coaching staff, nine new teammates and a new position but she couldn’t be having more fun.

“There was so much uncertainty and so many unknowns back in January,” said Trotter. “It has been a good situation though. We had a great team my first two years but things change and I couldn’t have been happier with the way everything played out. The coaching staff and players have been great. After the uncertainty ended, we just moved on and things are working out pretty well. This is a great team and I couldn’t ask for more.”

Nor could her teammates and coaches.

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